Ha! Not dead. Had you fooled, eh? Fortunately though rumors of my demise were much overstated. Unfortunately I am currently so incredibly busy that I might as well be deceased.
Let’s see, the date on the last journal was day 291, that makes it a little over a month. It has been a remarkably unremarkable month. =)
Marc and I went to Chinguetti with some Senegalese volunteers. That was quite entertaining. I wrote something about it in the long dark silence. I just have to figure out what I did with that and I’ll send it along.
Umm, other stuff… We guys here in Nouakchott have started playing poker. I like it. The betting is entertaining. I mostly suck, but we are playing ten ouguiya a chip (and by chip I mean matchstick since poker chips don’t exist here) and so I can usually play for a few hours before running out of money.
Ahh, the monkey’s paw. Are you familiar with the story? You get the paw and you get to make wishes. The catch is it’s cursed so you wishes always go horribly wrong. A woman gets it and wishes for $100,000. The next day her son is pulled into machine at the mill and his life insurance pays out $100,000. Stuff like that.
Well, you might remember that for New Years I resolved to make some Mauritanian friends. It has begun. The English department is next door to the Faculty of Sciences and it has been supplying a steady stream of people who wander over to say “hello” and practice a bit. I mentioned to a couple people where my house is and I now get visitors. All well and good except when they come knocking at the ass crack of dawn, which they do.
It has been helping my French though and there are a couple of guys that I really like.
Got to see Baba Maal. He came to Nouakchott. Very cool. Completely in Pulaar. Didn’t understand a word of it. Found that to detract surprisingly little.
It was a crowd of probably a couple thousand and every so often they’d react to something he’d said and start jumping and clapping. It was almost like being in a thunderstorm with the occasional torrents of light and sound governed by forces I didn’t understand.
Stephanie has a little brother who is autistic. Watching him eat a hamburger stands as one of the exemplars to me of immersion in action.
There is a koan which goes something like: “A student walks in on his master eating breakfast while reading the paper. ‘Master,’ he says, ‘I thought you told me to only eat breakfast when I eat breakfast. Yet, you are reading the paper.’ ‘Yes,’ replied the master, ‘when you eat breakfast only eat breakfast, and when you eat breakfast and read the paper only eat breakfast and read the paper.'”
When Jackie eats a hamburger that’s it. He’s not like me sitting there thinking about what comes next or lamenting my position in life or whatever. That burger is, for the moment, the center of everything. It is really inspiring to watch.
At the concert I was next to a fellow who didn’t so much listen to the music as was grabbed and shaken around by it. He was bouncing all over the place, to the extent that the limited confines would allow, cigarette dangling all the while from his lips drawing little red cryptograms in the air.
Bought a stove. Well, think bunsen burner on steroids. I can cook though, to the extent that soup and oatmeal qualify as “cooking.”
Leave for Europe for most of July in 11 days. Indescribably excited. Flying to Casablanca and taking the train up through Spain to meet my family in Paris. Dad won’t be there, but I’m working on convincing him to come here and hang out next year.
(Hey dad, look at these: http://dunsmore-eidson.smugmug.com/Vacation you don’t have to come stay in Mauritania, Africa is big.) =)
Obvious thing that happened: I got kicked off the Honors server. Irritating, but what can you do? I still like Honors and wasn’t the biggest fan the University’s central administration before, so not much harm done.
Thanks to the venerable Elijah I exist once again. Not quite sure what I can do to even begin to repay the debt, so if you have the opportunity do something nice for him.
Ok, sleeping time. I have a meeting with one of my new Mauritanian friends at 8 bloody thirty tomorrow morning, so bed is a good idea.
I think I’ve dumped the most important stuff here. Hopefully I’ll get a couple more of these out more coherently before Europe destroys my schedule again.